Creating An Original For A Theme That Speaks To You

I came across a call for artists for a project out of the Fort Erie Native Centre.

The theme was #empowerment and it was tied to the MMIWG topic. It was open to artists who don’t identify as indigenous. This was a first for me. Despite the multitude of concepts rattling around in my brain, I’m always hesitant to take on any type of culture statement art, for obvious reasons.

A concept instantly popped into my mind when I read this Call and what I created is very close to my original vision.

Personal Statement:
My attention was drawn to this project because of its theme of Empowerment.

There have been many public art pieces created to bring awareness to, to share knowledge of, and to gain empathy for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis.

Where many art pieces have been instrumental in pointing to the catastrophic crisis and many have also showcased the systemic racism and discrimination that is thought to be preventing resolutions to these cases of disappearance and murder, the theme of Empowerment interestingly lends itself to a new stage of exploration of hope for change.

Now, through exploring the theme of Empowerment, I aim to communicate hope through my art. Hope for change. Hope for young girls and future generations to believe that they will be called upon to purposefully position themselves as allies and change-makers.

I grew up on the North shore of Lake Superior in a small village next to a First Nations reserve. I am grateful to have had the cultural exposure and teachings at such an early age. More, I am very proud of the positive steps in building awareness and relationships that has initiated in Niagara. I am charmed to find Celebration of Nations growing and expanding in Niagara.

By entering my submission I hope to contribute to attracting attention and enticing a greater understanding and curiosity for MMIWC.

My Submission:

About the Art Piece:
Browns, ochres and blacks contrast but also compliment the reds and aqua blues. To provide tranquility and peace above the horizon I’ve included a copper pigment to accent and separate it from the seemingly chaotic lower half. Making mention to the innocent blood split, now and throughout history, red is a theme throughout the layers and the horizon line.

Below, we see a gathering of lost spirits as they are guided out of a state of stagnant death, empowered by a leader who is dancing a pathway of awakening.

Each spirt is awakening at his or her own pace and in his or her own way, and is becoming aware of the leader at just the precise time that they are destined to become aware.

Some may take longer than others. This is based on the severity of their life trauma and murder. They may be confused and disoriented about why they are being called upon to rise.

Our leader has already arisen nine spirits. Those have transformed into large birds; bringing wisdom, courage and strength for the continued work ahead.

Title: We Rise Together
Size: 24″ x 36″
Medium: Acrylic and Modeling Paste on Wrapped Canvas
Date: Aug 2019
Price: $300

Rhiannon Barry

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